• FlagMapBasic Facts


    Country Name:

    • conventional long form: Republic of Korea
    • conventional short form: South Korea

    Location: Eastern Asia, southern half of Korean Peninsula

    Population: 48,289,037

    Ethnic Groups: homogeneous (with the exception of approximately 20,000 Chinese)

    Languages: Korean (English is taught in Junior High and High Schools)

    Economy: South Korea is considered equal to the lesser economies of the European Union and it has a GDP per capita which is 18 times higher than neighboring North Korea. South Korea experienced high economic success during the 1980s because the government promoted high imports of raw materials and investment and savings. However, in 1997 South Korea experienced a financial crisis due to the government's developmental outlook and in 1999 began to recover by changing to a more corporate financial perspective. South Korea is known for exports such as electronic products, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, steel, ships, and textiles. The United States is the country's largest export partner. Agriculture products include rice, barley, chickens, and fish. 

    Industries: Electronics, automobile production, clothing, and footwear



    Following World War II, South Korea was established as a republic while their neighboring country of North Korea adopted a Communist government. During the Korean War (1950-1953), the United States and other UN forces fought with the South Korean people against North Korean attacks which were aided by the Chinese. In 1953 an armistice was signed which officially divided the Korean peninsula at the 38th parallel, creating a demilitarized zone. South Korea experienced rapid economic growth and in June 2002, representatives from North and South Korea met at a summit to discuss relations between the two countries.

    South Korea is a republic and has three branches of government similar to the United States of America: Executive, Legislative (only one assembly), and Judicial. South Korea has a president, President NO Mu-hyun, Prime Minister, KO Kun, and 2 Deputy Prime Ministers, KIM Chin-p'yo and YUN Tok-hong. The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term, the prime minister is appointed by the president, and the deputy prime ministers are appointed by the president who follows the guidance of the prime minister.


    Family Life

    • The family is considered the basic societal unit and focus of an individual's life. It is not uncommon to see extended families with several generations living together in the same household.

    • Distinct role relationships based on age, gender, and position exist among family members; these roles are expected to be fulfilled. For example, wives may submit to their husbands, younger children may submit to older male children, and female children may submit to everyone.

    • Children are encouraged to defer to adults and other authority figures (e.g., teachers) and they are expected to show respect to their elders.

    • Children are expected to be seen and not heard; furthermore, it is often viewed that a good child is a quiet child. Therefore, parents are often in control of the conversation and children may be given limitations on their participation in a conversation (e.g., length of time they can talk).

    • Punishment may be delivered physically; children may be strictly controlled. If a child behaves badly, the entire family may lose face.


    School System

    The school system in South Korea consists of 6 years of elementary education and 6 years of secondary education (i.e., 3 years of middle school, and 3 years of high school). Elementary education is compulsory and in the 1980s it was made to be free.

    In Korea, education is regarded of as a means for personal advancement and traditionally admission to the best secondary education is very competitive to ensure the best possible education. This competition for entrance in the highest quality secondary education has caused educational problems. To address these problems, in 1968 entrance exams for the middle schools were abolished and a lottery system was established. In 1974, the lottery system was adopted by high schools.

    Current Trends

    Similar to the educational views of the United States, South Korea has recognized the need for school culture to become more autonomous and individualized according to student population and community characteristics. To address these aspects of education, policies have begun to address: creating an autonomous school community; implementing a student-centered curriculum; diversifying the methods of evaluating students; vitalizing after-school extra-curricular activities and emphasizing the professionalism of teachers. Additionally, in the past most schools used a norm-referenced evaluation. Students were ranked according to the average total score they receive by combining grades from all subject areas. Class instruction, was designed for students to get good grades on their test scores at the expense of achieving the genuine goals and objectives of education. South Korea has recognized that the school education has failed to develop student's abilities to understand and think in comprehensive and creative ways. To address this dilemma, a policy has been created to try to evaluate students on a number of different criteria.


    Classroom Applications

    • Education is viewed as a means of advancement for the individual and consequently, as a great honor to the family. At times, academic achievement is considered the highest honor a child can offer his or her parents.
    • Many parents consider themselves integral in their child's academic achievement and they will spend time working with their child at home.
    • Although it is changing, sometimes learning is strongly rooted in rote learning and memorization; additionally, conformity may be valued above creativity.
    • Teachers are held in great respect. Students are expected to maintain proper distance from their teachers, and they may be arriving from a school environment in which teachers are mainly authoritarian. Students may be accustomed to the use of corporal punishment. Additionally, direct eye contact is considered rude so a student may not look a teacher in the eyes.
    • Many students may not be accustomed to offering to a discussion because they have not received the opportunity or it is considered rude; therefore, they may be hesitant to volunteer answers or ask questions.
Last Modified on January 4, 2013